Emir of Kuwait, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber a-Sabah, has died at the age of 91 after a long months-long battle with a serious illness. His medical condition deteriorated and as a result he was sent for medical treatment in the United States, where he arrived on a special plane sent to him by President Donald Trump. He apparently died at an American hospital and his body was flown back to his country, and only after she arrived was he pronounced dead.
Al-Sabah ruled Kuwait for 14 years, but even before that he was a leading figure mainly in foreign relations, and especially in relations with the United States. His successor is his brother, Nawaf al-Ahmad a-Sabah.
The Gulf Princess, which, like its sisters, is rich in oil and gas, is a loyal ally of the United States, which went to war in Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait.
Last week, Trump awarded the Emir of Kuwait a presidential medal, which he received in his son’s name. According to the White House, al-Sabah has received the award for his role in resolving conflicts in the Middle East, including the boycott of its Gulf neighbors over Qatar. Trump said at the time that Kuwait might be the next Arab country to normalize its relations with Israel, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But state officials have denied the possibility.
It is estimated that no one wanted to take responsibility for a dramatic decision when he ruled on his deathbed. The heir, brother Nawaf a-Sabah, will be the one to make the decision.
Kuwait, like all the Gulf states, has suffered heavy losses in recent years due to falling oil and gas prices, its main source of income. It has not been able to carry out comprehensive reforms as in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in part because of the dysfunction of the old leader, and now it stands at a crossroads.
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